Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership in Dance and in Social Issues

BOND: Yes, that the people come. It's not all that you've engaged in.

JONES: No. I've been part of a discourse inasmuch from what I have said and done as how what I have said and done has been used by a discourse. And that is something to consider. Like when we make a work, we say it's like giving birth to a child. Will that child go on to find a cure for cancer or AIDS or will that child end up as a mass murderer? You don't know when you let them out of your house, do you? Our work almost has that same potential. It can be used by the world. It can be ignored by the world. It's a crap shoot unless you get to a certain level and you have this organ which is called your marketing machine, your public relations machine that's relentlessly positioning you, positioning the work. It's not clean business. It's not clean. The person that starts the work, the person that's trying to sit here with you is trying to speak honestly but it's not — I can't give answers that are going to be designed to be put in marble on the Bill T. Jones Memorial some day, right? They're often really ambivalent. They're oftentimes self-effacing or benighted in terms of self.

BOND: But on the Bill T. Jones Memorial, it won't just say he danced. It'll say he thought, he thought, he stood up for marriage equality. He supported the NAACP and its boycott of South Carolina. He did this. He did that. There's more to it than —

JONES: Thank you for reminding me of that. The other voice is one that sometimes is so much in the moment.

BOND: I don't want to deprecate the dance. The dance is who you are, what you are, and it's why people come to see you.

JONES: Art-making.

BOND: Yes.

JONES: I'm a retired dancer and when you look at my stage, the purist would hardly say it's dance.

BOND: I wish I'd been in the theater when you jumped on the stage in "Fela!" and danced with the dancers there. My wife and I are so angry that we by luck did not go.

JONES: You did not see that?


JONES: Well, I'd say right now I dance when I'm happy. As my mother says, I dance when I — "Child, you gotta get out of self," she says. "Get out of self." The Greeks call it ectasis. When the spirit is in the room, when the god comes into the room, be ready because that's the dance that only happens at one time, that one night. That happens a few times when I'm happy.